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What Has Joel De La Fuente Been Up To Since Leaving Law & Order: SVU?

For nine seasons and 52 episodes, actor Joel de la Fuente portrayed a skilled TARU technician named Ruben Morales on "Law & Order: SVU." Of course, the audience never really ever heard him referred to as "Ruben." More often than not, he would magically appear on the other side of a desk full of screens and various devices a few minutes after one of the detectives said they were "checking in with TARU" (aka the Technical Assistance Response Unit). After an initial attempt to explain his findings to said detectives (in tech speak), one or more of them would inevitably insist he repeat himself "in English, please." 

It's difficult to take a character who predominantly responds to commands like "fast-forward" or "zoom-in" and give him both dimension and memorability, and yet, de la Fuente managed to do exactly that during his time on "SVU." Though the actor had starred in a number of television series and made-for-TV movies since kicking off his career in 1992 playing Quan Kim Thanh on "ABC After School Specials," it's safe to say that working with Manhattan's most elite squad is what put the former "All My Children" star on the map. The same year he left "SVU" (2011), de la Fuente landed on the big screen with a small role in George Nolfi's "The Adjustment Bureau." Since then, his portfolio has only continued to expand, and the actor has starred in a wide range of genres across both television and film.

From 2011 to 2015, de la Fuente was an indie film darling

After landing a small role as a priest in Season 3 of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie," Joel de la Fuente hit the ground running with a recurring role in a popular TV show and a string of films from smaller studios. In addition to playing smaller parts in psychological dramas and horror thrillers such as 2012's "Forgetting the Girl," 2014's "Julia," and 2015's "Ava's Possessions," the actor burst onto the scene in 2011 with a lead role in director John Daschbach's "Brief Reunion." 

In the film, de la Fuente plays Aaron, a successful software mogul living a seemingly perfect life in New Hampshire alongside his beautiful wife Lea (Alexie Gilmore) and a handful of close-knit, equally successful friends. Like so many films set in the picturesque but eternally haunted landscape of rural New England, all is not what it appears, and a threat to Aaron's existence arrives one day in the form of an old classmate named Teddy (Scott Shepherd). For a variety of reasons (envy, dislike, bitterness), Teddy proceeds to stalk, blackmail, and extort the film's protagonist, but it's Aaron's extreme and desperate response to the threat that gives the story its teeth. 

Though the film received little praise (the New York Times' Stephen Holden wrote that its "shade of noir is a dull gray," and it received a critical score of just 17% on Rotten Tomatoes), it nonetheless allowed the actor to prove himself as a worthy lead star and introduced him to an entirely new audience.  

De la Fuente played Hemlock Grove's mad scientist

Believe it or not, there was a time when Netflix was producing very little original content. That time was 2013, and horror veteran Eli Roth's adaptation and expansion of Brian McGreevy's "Hemlock Grove" became one of the first Netflix original series in history. Along with contemporary originals "Arrested Development" and "House of Cards," the series was nominated for an award at the 65th Primetime Emmys (via IMDb) and earned itself an enthusiastic fan base over the course of its three-season run.

"Hemlock Grove" followed the trials and tribulations of a small town in Pennsylvania whose troubles ranged from poverty, class disparity, and unemployment to werewolves, mad scientists, and murder. In the series, de la Fuente portrayed Johann Pryce, a well-funded scientist whose unflappable focus on his ethically questionable agenda was helped along by his seeming inability to feel or respond to basic human emotions. 

Pryce was at once a throwback to the mad scientists of classic horror films (see: actor Dennis Price as Dr. Frankenstein in '72 and '73), a nod to the fear society has of too-rapid, amoralist advances in science, and a slick, suit-wearing incarnation of the face of big pharma. Despite the character's potentially over-the-top blend of malevolence, de la Fuente's light touch kept Pryce from becoming cartoonish and made him one of the more viable and compelling antagonists in the series.  

In Madam Secretary, de la Fuente portrayed a corrupt and abusive world leader

Following his run on "Hemlock Grove," de la Fuente popped up briefly in a number of TV series. Between 2015 and 2019, he starred in a Season 6 episode of "Blue Bloods" titled "Flags of our Fathers," an episode of CBS' "Limitless" titled "A Dog's Breakfast," an episode of NBC's "Game of Silence," and a Season 1 episode of "Bull" called "How to Dodge a Bullet" (via IMDb). It was the actor's three-episode arc on creator Barbara Hall's "Madam Secretary," however, that most defined the era for the former "SVU" star.

In 2017, de la Fuente made his debut on the series portraying the president of The Philippines, Datu Andrada. In Season 3's "A Break in Diplomacy," negotiations between Andrada and Téa Leoni's titular Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord, go south when the president makes an aggressive sexual advance on McCord and she punches him in the face. Though Andrada's own military seek the United States' support in assassinating their new president, McCord decides to look for an alternative (read: less bloody) means of gaining the upper hand. 

McCord soon discovers that Andrada has paid a number of women for their silence over the years, and although — in the world of television, at least — that alone would be enough to bring Andrada down, the leverage McCord ultimately gains over the president is of a different nature entirely. In the end, the U.S. learns that Andrada has been taking millions of dollars in bribes from China, a career-destroying fact McCord threatens to reveal if Andrada refuses to fall in line. De la Fuente reprised his role as the corrupt leader in two more episodes, and it's easy to see shades of Andrada in the major recurring television role he held simultaneously.

Joel de la Fuente is Inspector Takeshi Kido

In 2015, creator Frank Spotnitz (of "The X-Files" fame) struck gold with an Amazon Original adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Hugo Award-winning 1962 novel, "The Man in the High Castle." Like its source material, the series of the same name imagines an alternative, dystopian universe wherein the Axis powers of Japan and Germany, having prevailed in World War II, divide the United States into two parts. Imperial Japan rules over the West Coast's "Japanese Pacific States," while Nazi Germany claims the majority of the country's eastern, southern, northern, and central states, save for a slim neutral zone that separates its "Great Nazi Reich" from Japan's colonies.  

In the Emmy Award-winning series, de la Fuente plays Takeshi Kido, the sadistic and ambitious chief inspector of Imperial Japan's Kempeitai police force. Kido spends the first three seasons of his storyline mercilessly hunting down and executing anyone even suspected of engaging in the resistance, often resorting to torture and cruel and unusual punishment for the mere pleasure of it. In Season 4, however, Kido is forced to reflect upon the evil of his ways when, after being caught and nearly executed by American rebels in his attempt to flee the J.P.S., The Black Communist Rebellion mercifully grants him a trial instead. Ultimately, the inspector agrees to help in the rebuilding of a non-totalitarian U.S. government. 

De la Fuente starred in all 40 episodes of the four-season series, all the while appearing briefly in a number of other films and series as well. 

De la Fuente isn't a doctor, but he played several on TV

After landing a cameo in Francis Lawrence and Justin Haythe's "Red Sparrow" — the 2018 film adaptation of Jason Matthews' "The Red Sparrow Trilogy" — de la Fuente returned to television in the form of several different (and different kinds of) doctors. 

In 2019, "The Man in the High Castle" actor appeared as geneticist-turned-kidnapper, torturer, and mad scientist Dr. Guillermo Rizal in an episode of "The Blacklist" titled "Guillermo Rizal (No. 128)." Next, the now bonafide television star popped up as a far more benevolent — if equally brilliant — doctor in the Season 2 finale of NBC's "New Amsterdam." In the episode, de la Fuente's Dr. Gene Cholokian explains why his pediatric gene therapy trial can't just immediately accept a patient just because Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) really, really wants said patient to be able to do it, before ultimately immediately accepting the patient for exactly that reason.

Though Cholokian's bedside manner is a great deal more forgiving than that of de la Fuente's next physician character, Dr. Brian Cardoso on NBC's "Manifest," their storylines and motivations are nearly identical. As Cardoso, de la Fuente refuses to allow the suspended-in-time 10-year-old Cal Stone (Jack Messina) into a clinical trial that could save his life based on Cal's inability to meet certain necessary criteria, and the potential threat he poses to the trial itself and any other patients who might stand to benefit from its findings.

In Power Book III: Raising Kanan, de la Fuente dons a police uniform once again

Though Joel de la Fuente went on to appear briefly in writer-director Peter Hedges' 2021 zoom film, "The Same Storm," and is slated to play a character named Lam in writer-director Mariama Diallo's 2022 film "Master" (starring Regina Hall and Zoe Renee), it looks as though his most recent recurring role saw the TARU tech move from the basement to the Captain's desk.

In STARZ's "Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Joel de la Fuente portrays police captain Crisanto Peralta in a two-episode arc. De la Fuente first appears in Episode 3, "Stick and Move," as the frustrated Peralta, who explains to detectives Burke (Shanley Caswell) and Howard (Omar Epps) that "rolling corners doesn't move the needle" with regard to drugs, gangs, and organized crime in New York City. He comes down hard on the team for failing to solve the murders of two deceased teens, and pleads with them to bring home a win and "some good PR." The actor appears again in Episode 6, "Level Up," where he checks in with Burke and adds to the character's backstory by explaining that he promised her father he'd look out for her. 

Between the tech, science, and medical backgrounds of the majority of the actor's non-recurring characters, it's safe to say de la Fuente was fairly well-versed in the various STEM jargon that helped launch his career in the years following his departure from TARU on "SVU."